I was born in 1936.
I was not at Stonewall or Woodstock, but I have lived through a lot. I have seen a lot.
I don't usually post but I did on another thread today.
I was a little frustrated by the people who were so worried about gay history without really knowing it.
I am here if anyone wants to ask me any questions about the way we were. I can only give my perspective because that is what I have.
What was gay America like in 1950; you would have been twenty. You were too young to be in the military during WW2.
In 1950 I was 14 and in Kansas. At 16 I enlisted claiming to be of legal age and did go to Korea briefly. I got out after 4 years and went to NY in 1957.
I can comment on what things were like in NY, but know that was not the case in all of America.
In 1957 if you were attractive or amusing then it really was a community. Everyone met at parties or the theatre, it was all about knowing looks and glances.
It is such a big question, social life, dating life, life is huge.
I learned about sex in the military. That men had sex with each other was an open secret. There were men who 'provided relief' who would take on anyone and the boys traded those names around.
There were those of us who had a more equal relationship with our 'buddy' and I had a buddy from the moment I enlisted. We slept together and he introduced me to sex.
I don't want to ramble on but if this has stimulated a more specific question ask away.
Ramble on, please do.
I find this all fascinating.
Im probably not putting the question the right way,sorry, what were realtionships like? Obviously not open like today, but thy existed, right? Where there as many? just kept quiet?
While it is sweet to be called fascinating, it really helps my focus if you are specific. Direct my rambling as it were.
One thing that is vastly different is affection. Men thought nothing about sharing a bed or a shower, yes even washing another man's back in the military. That became very different after gay liberation, many things that were not suspect before became suspect and it changed the way men related to men in a non sexual way.
Were the military buddies gay, or just using one another for relief?
when did you come out?
Did gay men and lesbians hate each other as they seem to now?
Relationships were very much like the way they are today.
Men 'set up housekeeping' and became 'confirmed bachelors' living openly together and sharing a bed openly.
Once the public knew more about gay a lot of couples moved into two bedrooms apartments so as not to be accused, even though the relationship was open to everyone but family.
I suppose that was the key thing. We knew who to tell and who not to tell and family was never in the loop.
Of course a LOT men got married just like they do today and had men on the side.
R6 some were, some weren't some did some didn't. Not every relationship was same.
You're the same age as my father, OP.
And thank you, posters, for not being total beyotches as we are often to older gay men on DL.
Thank you, OP, for being willing to open your memories to us.
My question: I'm curious about the sort of subtle, underground communication system that was in place to indicate interest. Did you go to public cruising places for sex? Was there sort of a "spot", or any particular signals, you looked for that told you a man was interested?
R7 I never came out as you think of it.
I just was. As the times changed so did I and my circle widened.
Since when did gays and lesbians hate each other?
Did any of the gay men you knew when you were young settle down and live straight lives (wife, kids and the white picket fence) while still very much on the on the down-low?
Did married men hit on you or other men you knew?
[quote]Men thought nothing about sharing a bed or a shower, yes even washing another man's back in the military. That became very different after gay liberation, many things that were not suspect before became suspect and it changed the way men related to men in a non sexual way.
This is so true and something that is lost on gay people today.
And I'd go even further: in the past it was easier for men to explore the range of their sexuality.
What were your thought when gay liberation started? Did you think leave well enough alone or did you jump on the bandwagon? Did men of your generation become scared that this would upset the lives they had built?
OP I just want to say thank you for being here. I know I will have questions when I have thought about it but just off the top of my head.
What were the old bathhouses like? Pre aids etc.
Were you constantly in fear of being "found out"?
(It's awesome that someone born in 1936 posts on DL.)
In the old days *fifties* before the big gay movement gay guys serviced straight men and it was no big thing.
Since virginity ws so important for women to hold on to, and a guy had to show respect for the girl he was dating by not having sex with her, men sought out other men in the military, parks, etc.
Fewer gay men were beaten up because they were a necessity and appreciated. The above poster is correct in saying that it was cool until the gay movement came along. Also, the free love movement allowed guys to have sex with women before marriage and reduced the need for gay guys.
There were so many spots, of course the YMCA was a well known spot as was every Turkish Sauna in town.
While things did happen on premise it was more of a meeting place and you would take your friends home.
I was always the relationship type, now I am with a partner forever it seems but I would have a guy for a few weeks and then another and another. Probably 90% of them had wives but it was never an issue for me.
Men and Women had parties and bars and did not hate each other at all.
Underground communication, it was all gestures and signals.
It was not uncommon for men to share a bed and sleep even closely together. I shared a bed with many straight friends who had been drinking.
I suppose the best signal was that underwear was removed before getting into bed. If a guy wore his shorts you never went there, unless he slipped them off under the covers. If he took them off, it was obvious.
Of course there were misunderstandings but not many.
What new technology was the most exhilarating to you? I imagine that it could be the Internet itself, but my own parents said it was actually their first look at a home computer. My mother was also very amused by home gaming consoles in the 80's.
I'm fascinated by how you found someone in the military so quickly to be "boyfriends" with.
I'm out here in the open in a city where gay people are out and proud and full of support, and I haven't been able to find anyone.
Did the pressure of the closet and the oppression cause you to just "accept the first one that came by" and make it work?
I've never figured out how to find mutual interest, and so I'm forever single.
OP, was there a general sense of self-loathing as a matter of "fact" back then? By this I mean, the whole Boys in the Band mentality of "We are abnormal people so let's make the best of it" sense of backroom, backalley bar living in the shadows kind of way of looking at the world? Did most other gay men hate themselves? Think of themselves as "society's misfits?" Most older gay men that I have ever met have been so damaged that it makes me very sad. Homosexuality was classified as a mental illness until 1974.
R16 when gay liberation started it was impossible not to be happy about it.
There was a sense of joy that was infectious. Even though I was on the East Coast Harvey Milk was a hero to me and many others.
At the same time some of the changes were hard on everyone and men suddenly became suspect of each other.
I was so fortunate to have a great circle of friends who know I was the same before and after their eyes were opened and they treated me no differently, but it was not so easy on others.
Many, many men older than I despised liberation and thought that it ruined everything and for them it did.
How did you learn the gestures and signals at first? I was oblivious in the 80s when I was coming of age (of course, AIDS hysteria at the time made things more dangerous)
And "misunderstandings"? Weren't you so very scared of those? They could get you in an awful lot of trouble, couldn't they? Beat up? Worse? Blacklisted?
Thank you, OP, for being there, and sharing your experiences.
I agree that with the advent of gay liberation, straight men become much more circumspect about their interactions with other men. However, the generation that is coming up now -- not all of them -- but a good percentage seem to be, for lack of a better word, re-adopting the "if it feels good, do it" and are more affectionate with their male friends.
I know mine wasn't a gay question per se, but I still like to find out what technological changes were the most astounding.
R17 I was not a big bathhouse person in the 70's. I did go a few times to the Continental. Everyone knows about Bette Midler and her legendary shows but Jane Olivor got her start there as well. I would go for the entertainment and of course stay a bit.
The Turkish baths were no towel, men would wash each other, massage each other and you had to watch carefully for signals of interest to take a guy home.
The 70s baths were sex, free open sex. Condoms were a fetish and a few used them as a fetish. They were sexually free of course but at the same time very social, there was no refusal to talk or make eye contact. Romances came from baths, friends as well.
I wish you were cackle cackle.
R18 no. I never really thought about it.
R21 the Iphone with voice technology. I hated texting before the Iphone. Suri has made my life so much better so that would be the one I most appreciate.
R22 no you didn't just take any comers (some did) I just gravitated towards the same man who gravitated towards me. Lucky I guess.
R23 It was not general. I think it depends on what crowd you fell in with.
I think there are just as many damaged men now as then, and just as many healthy ones.
How did McCarthyism and his witch hunt for gays affect the rest of the country outside of DC?
Also, which gay fashion eras did you enjoy the most or least?
R25 I would go slowly and carefully to avoid misunderstandings.
I did have a few always explained by alcohol consumption that somehow did not result in any fighting or problems.
There was less fear and homophobia when there was less knowledge.
I was a teenager all through the late 70s early 80s ... I knew I was gay from about the age of 11. I never DIDN'T think about "being found out". I spent my entire teen years TERRIFIED, and then just as I start to try and come out to close friends, the AIDS crisis hits, and makes me even more terrified.
I can't imagine "not thinking about" being found out back in the days when the closet was all you had.
I hated the closet so much... it made me so paranoid and fearful. It was awful.
What's the wildest and most sexually liberated thing you did pre-AIDS?
McCarthy made everyone more circumspect, it also spawned some of the earliest gay liberation efforts in history.
I don't think I ever cared much about fashion. I liked the tailored look of the 60's very much and was a square in the 70's as I preferred buttoned up to casual. It was probably the mid 80's before I wore a pair of dungarees in public.
R36 I am so sorry you had to deal with all of that.
We never thought of it as a closet that concept came about after liberation.
Before liberation it was just the way things were. It is hard to explain, when you find a good circle of friends and deal with the job and the public in a separate way and that is the way things are you don't think about it terribly much, it just is.
Most lesbians assume gay men are "family"...they are very surprised to realize some gay guys despise them.
Thanks for posting OP.
R37 I am afraid I might not give you what you want.
Because anything was possible by the time I was 40 it was less tempting. Imagine being in an ice cream store surrounded by men eating everything in sight.
I was the guy who would go to the butter pecan the lonely flavor untouched by the others.
Of course I never wore a condom and never pulled out.
OP I think you are caught up with the questions. Let me add another.
The sharing of beds fascinate me.
Were you careful not to touch each other? or did you just not think about it?
OP, do you remember when gay culture or the gay community became so shallow and looks obsessed?
R42 we slept like puppies. We never worried about touching.
When I would visit my cousin and his wife he and I shared the large bed and his wife took a second twin in their child's room.
I often woke up being spooned by my cousin as he was so used to spooning his wife but it was never uncomfortable or ackward.
R43 we always were. Men who love other men love the look of other men. It always was and I think it always will be.
Of course it was my looks that got me into the groups and parties I knew in NY. Men who had a different look ended up in a different world.
I think the difference was that I understood that my face was my fortune and that it would not last forever.
[quote] Many, many men older than I despised liberation and thought that it ruined everything and for them it did.
I am glad for many of the advances, for the marriage equality, etc etc etc.
But I also 'get' this point of view, too. I think there was something really unique and fascinating about gay life a few decades ago.
And though I was too young to live through most of it, this isn't coming from some sort of faux-nostalgia.
Just from the accounts I've read....there was a great excitement and pride for gay men to NOT be part of the mainstream, and many men really were energized by exploring that different pathway.
It's why I worry about same-sex marriage becoming the thing that MUST happen...someone recently posted that thread and I totally agree. It's fantastic to have a CHOICE, but many people are still locked into a mindset where everyone must act the same and make the same choices.
OP, what year did you first become aware of the word gay?
Thanks, and thanks in general for sharing your story.
Thanks for this! I'll add a shallow one and a sentimental one.
Ever sleep with anyone famous? Where did you most feel a sense of belonging?
R47 the word gay....
I can't tell you exactly. It was sometime in the 70's. The newspaper talked about the gay parade being held in the village. I think that was the first time I saw it in print and it was several years later before it entered common use.
Exactly R46 much more than fear was excitement about being outside society yet influencing it in a great way.
I think coming out and liberation are the right way to go yet there was a magic to life before that. It was not some closet of torture for all of us.
Sleep? Yes I did sleep with someone famous.
I slept with James Brolin two nights in a row. No sex was involved but you didn't ask about sex, you asked about sleeping.
Thanks, OP. R47 here. I am 15 years younger than you, and I can remember a time before it was called "gay," but for my entire adult (18+) life, I think "gay" was the word.
People have been discussing the word in another thread today, and I was trying to remember the time before the word existed, at least for me. No particular moment comes to mind, but then I had no one I talked about it with.
OP, did you see Looking For Mr Goodbar & Unmarried Woman when they first came out, I mean like in the theaters? What impression did they make on you?
R52 yes I posted on that thread, it is what got me riled.
Vitriolic nonsense. Words come and go, identities shift and vary.
If I know anything I know you can't control others and if they want a new different or separate word let them have it.
The way we were indeed.
Flip through these photos of men being affectionate with men.
Would men pose this way today...with such easy naturalness?
No impression at all. In fact I can't recall if I ever saw them.
If you are looking for films that made a big impression on my consciousness my list would be.
The Harrad Experiement
All About Eve
Gone With The Wind
An American Werewolf in London
That random list of 5 are the films that made a huge impression on me all for different reasons.
Do you remember when touch tone phones were a new invention? Did you think they were cool?
What was your relationship like with your family? Were they totally clueless about your sexuality? Did there come a time when they figured things out?
Do you have siblings?
[quote]No impression at all. In fact I can't recall if I ever saw them.
What sort of a homosexual are you?
I remember going from dial to touch tone. It was not a big deal to me.
R55 Thank you for that. Yes, affection was easy and natural and not 'gay'. We never thought about holding a hand or throwing our arm around a buddy.
I saw An Unmarried Woman about a dozen times when it first came out, R53.
It had so many things in it I loved: Jill Clayburgh dancing the Swan Lake, playing Erica Benton, her husband Martin's "Upper East Side by way of Vassar 'hooker,'" a woman who couldn't walk up Broadway with a person-sized painting, a gift from her lover Saul, as well as Patty's mother and Sue, Jeanette, and Elaine's best friend.
It had Soho. It had the Village. I used to walk past One Fifth twice a day while they were filming. I could have been an extra, but I couldn't take off from work.
It had white wine. It had 162 Spring Street. It had Leo Sayer. It had Paul Jenkins' paintings. It had hot sauce in scrambled eggs.
It was a terrific, optimistic, feminist movie and I loved enough to see it many, many times.
I saw Goodbar once. So dreary, I couldn't tell you anything about it.
What would you like to know?
R58 In today's light this will be hard to understand. I was fine with my family and they were fine with me.
I took my boyfriend from the military home many times and my mother without thought always put us in the same bed. He could lie in my arms in the easy chair after dinner and no questions were asked.
There was just no idea in their minds that we were anything but how they saw us, close friends.
I remember around the time I was 40 my older brother asked me if I was a 'confirmed bachelor' and I confirmed it. We both knew what it meant.
By that time my parents had passed and I only had my brother.
OP, we've all read sad stories about gay people fired on the spot if they were outed. Perhaps you knew some. Did you have worry about that in your profession?
And like other posters have said, thank you so much for sharing your memories.
Hey, OP. Thanks for starting this thread. I was born in 1954 but from 1970 on many of my friends were from the born-1915-to-1935 era and I benefitted greatly from their experience and stories of life at a time that seems so different from now.
I think what surprised me most was the relative freedom and lack of worry many of them felt - they were closeted to their families for the most part (meaning not talking about it - it's hard to imagine that the numerous drag performers among them were thought to be straight by their families). But despite the closet and general loathing towards gay people, they also had an under-the-radar safety, with the gay argot, specific places to go, and a general ignorance among many people so they could live in plain view without often being troubled. Some even lived in rural areas and talked of never being without companionship and sex partners. Alcoholism was prevalent among this group, though - a sense of burning up the life force in splendid fashion seemed to be a general sense of what one should do.
Nothing from that past is wanted in the present - the shame, spite, put-downs, laws, lack of any equality of civil rights. But the resiliency and inner confidence of gay people - "This is who I am and nothing you say is going to change that" - is what shone through most for me.
R64 as I have stated many times I was in a place of privilege. I was in New York and worked in a theatre production office so I had no fear.
I can speak to my experience only, but I know the experience of those in Kansas or Louisiana would be vastly different and still is.
There were many around the country who lived in fear, Mattachine was born out of that fear which is why I think the liberation was needed, it still is.
My life was mine, and typical of a big city maybe but not all of America.
hey op -
you ever thought or writing your memoirs?
you've got a lovely way with words - and a great attitude & no bullshit! - i would love to read your story - and sure many others would too!
recently a good friend - who is now in her mid sixties and recently retired - came across a photo album belonging to a long-dead uncle. it was amongst the debris in her recently deceased aunt's house - and no one was interested in it except my friend - so the family was happy for her to have the book...
it;s full of photos of her uncle as a young man and documents his life from his arrival in new york city in 1919 thru to around the mid twenties. he was a strapping, handsome young man - and all of the pictures in it are of him and other strapping young men. not a woman in sight. gather her uncle was a swim instructor at aY that was in chelsea - that even then had a reputation as a hub for a certain type of men - lol
anyway - she knows nothing about the family's black sheep - he only came home to visit once in the early thirties - and lived and eventually died in NYC back in the late sixties. His young sister - the aunt who had the album - did visit him during the sixties - and did ask him if he was gay - which he denied. yet he appeared to have lived with one of the handsome young guys in the album for most of his life- and the other guy's family was responsible for burying the uncle and forwarding his effects.
my friend wants to know more about the guy - he obviously had quite a life! - but info is thin on the ground - and certainly any chance of really hearing his story now - rather than just bare facts of when he arrived. where he lived and worked, etc - is gone.
there are so many biographies and autobiographies of straight folk out there - and not that many really honest accounts of gay people's lives in comparison - i think that's so sad! I want to read more and hear their tales and know how it was - cos once they're gone it's too late...
please consider it op!
R53 I'm not the OP, btw, just a gay guy who saw An Unmarried Woman and Mr. Goodbar when they came out.
[quote]How did you learn the gestures and signals at first?
I don't think this question has been answered yet. How do you figure this stuff out when it's all so underground?
Today, there's movies, TV, internet, books, magazines, etc. There are iPhone apps dedicated to finding other gay people in numerous ways.
Before then, there was the "hanky code" (which was purely sexual)... but I'm not even sure how people really found out about THAT (it was a rather elaborate and complex code).
And before that? How did you discover and learn these gestures and looks and glances in order to find each other?
R67 I know so many who have written books just like you are asking for.
They can't find a publisher or an agent. It is one thing to write and yet another to find and agent and a publisher.
One of my friends was a great Broadway dancer who later did the Imogene Cocoa show on tv and finally Carol Burnett. He wrote a great book about gay life in his time, I've a copy of the manuscript.
He was told over and over again that he was 'not famous' enough to be published.
R70, look into "self-publishing". It's much easier now, with "on-demand printing" and such.
R69 it wasn't like sign language. There was no one gesture or signal.
The best way to say it is that we communicated with our eyes.
For instance if a man was to spend the night after a party 'too drunk' to go home and you had the sense he wasn't all that drunk you took him to your room.
If he removed his t shirt but kept his boxers on you gave him a look in they eyes and then the shorts. If he gave you the same look you both removed them and there was no pretense.
But if he kept them on and you both stayed awake and you both were shifting and moving and sighing you waited until you could get in a position to feel an erection, if it was present then it was body communication, a subtle grind to see if the took the shorts off.
In a Turkish bath if you washed another man's back you would let your hand slip, no flinch, let it rest, no flinch, wash his chest, scrubbing lower to see if there was a response.
It was all circumstantial.
sounds like fun
Yeah, R72, but at some point you had to learn all that... not just to recognize it, but to have the courage to DO it.
R73 it still is fun.
For the past 4 nights my partner and I have been to the theatre and one night out for dinner as well.
Most of my friends made it through the crisis and are still alive. We have a busy, fun life filled with fun.
NY is so easy to be old in, everyone delivers and we have a doorman building.
R74 My stiff dick gave me all the courage I needed from 16 on.
Where does all this " gay guys hate lesbians" talk come from? It's a young thing? I'm astounded by this repeating comment, thread to thread.
We are family and always will be family.
BTW wonderful thread, OP
When I was young -- I'm not; get over it -- I felt the hate went more in the other direction, that lesbians hate gay men.
I lived in a big city when I got sober years ago, and one of my first sponsors was a lesbian. She eventually resigned from being my sponsor because she had joined some kind of "He-Woman Man Haters Club," and male friends were verboten.
When she celebrated one of her sober anniversaries in her lesbian home group, she wanted me to be there. So the dykes actually called for a vote, and it depended on which particular male person it was who was invited. Some guys were verboten, apparently. I was okay, though.
The overall feeling on my part was that lesbians really don't like any men, gay, straight, SASA, bros, MWHBCG, whatever. I have always had lesbian friends nonetheless.
The only thing not up for discussion are sports. I don't want to hear it. They have their balls, we have ours.
OP is a dinosaur. A velocifagtor. No. A tricerabottom.
You are roughly about the same age as the men portrayed in the film "The Boys In The Band" .
Does that film ring true to you? Are the attitudes and self hatred (Not all the characters) accurate to the times for gay men in 1968?
OP, are the 18 year olds hotter now, or back in 50s and 60s?
[quote]I saw An Unmarried Woman about a dozen times when it first came out
Wow! You actually paid to see it a dozen times?
Where was it showing?
[quote]It had 162 Spring Street
Which scene was 162 Spring St? The scene when she runs into her black girlfriend in the bar and Leo Sayer's playing? The 'take me to your loft, Charlie' scene?
Do you have the DVD now and do you still watch it over & over?
Did you also like 'Starting Over'?
I can't believe you saw them filming it. Did you know the name of the film and then look out for it when it came out? Funny that it turned out that you liked it so much.
[quote]We are family and always will be family.
Like the Ewings or the Borgias.
R82 No. But I (or someone) paid to see it most of those times.
In NY, it was playing at the Paramount near Columbus Circle (now deceased). I moved to LA that summer, where IIRC it was playing first on Westwood Blvd., and later in Santa Monica, where I lived.
My therapist there described it as my "transitional object," something that reminded me of home, New York, to which I could turn when I felt homesick.
I eventually got it on VHS, but I realized the last time I watched it, in 1999, I didn't want to see it again. I'd OD'd on it.
162 Spring Street is where Erica picked up Charlie so they could go "slumming," as he put it.
I had no idea walking past One Fifth in 1977 how much I was going to like the movie they were making when they put it out in 1978.
I liked "Starting Over" pretty well.
Jill Clayburgh was my favorite actress since I saw her in Pippin.
Until she died a couple of years ago, I saw everything she did, or have tried to, except for "I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can," as I'm an ex-Valium addict, and the withdrawal was so horrendous, I just have never wanted to watch.
I liked "It's My Turn" better, probably because there was no Burt Reynolds.
[quote]I eventually got it on VHS, but I realized the last time I watched it, in 1999, I didn't want to see it again. I'd OD'd on it.
Well, you might want to give it another shot. It's now a REALLY long time. The DVD has Jill & Paul talking about the movie, the whole way through, which will interest you.
I loved the film too, obviously. My only connection is that my family ended up renting a place in Erica's building at 254 East 68th St, summer '79, so that was quite a coincidence, being such a big fan of the film.
[quote]162 Spring Street is where Erica picked up Charlie so they could go "slumming," as he put it.
Interesting. I guess it's long gone now.
I remember 'Food', also on Spring, I think. (The restaurant scene before Martin tells Erica his news and the throwing up scene that everyone remembers).
Did you stay in Santa Monica? Hope it worked out.
And I hope it doesn't get hijacked by the two "An Unmarried Woman" fans. Feel free to start another thread on that topic, boys.
OP, I was born in 1960, as a VERY young teen in a non-continental city that loved emulating everything New York but wasn't quite getting it (hint - the Tropics), I was able to experience the tail end of the innuendos, the signals, and the being part of an underground secret society that was so much more magical than real life.
However, I also saw people's lives get ruined by getting caught (or turnarounds deep back into the closet), bars owned by the mob, gay men getting ripped off because the criminals relied on no one daring call the police, etc.
Did you encounter any danger or feeling of instability due to the underground, criminal nature of a life that was still considered illegal in most states? Were the theatrical circles (which I also joined in NYC, but by then we were about the AIDS crisis and outrage) a sort of refuge from that?
[quote]My only connection is that my family ended up renting a place in Erica's building at 254 East 68th St, summer '79, so that was quite a coincidence, being such a big fan of the film.
By any chance, is your name John, and you're a lawyer?
Yeah, seven posts out of 87 is so "hijacked," R86.
At your age, you actually know how to use the internet. Wow, you go, gramps!
[quote]s a VERY young teen in a non-continental city that loved emulating everything New York but wasn't quite getting it (hint - the Tropics),
Why are you being all surreptitious about where you grew up? What do you think's going to happen?
[quote]By any chance, is your name John, and you're a lawyer?
No. Funny if I had been, wouldn't it?
Yes, R90. I have a friend who grew up there.
OP, how many dicks have you had?
OP, how did you refer to yourself, and others, instead of "gay"?
I am so fortunate not to have known any of the 'types' from Boys in the Band, they were village types that were not a part of my world.
Of course we all went to laugh at the pitiable village queens and looked down on them.
R86 I do think my circles were a bit of a refuge, however I was always aware if I was in a bar that because they had no license we could be raided at any time.
[quote]Of course we all went to laugh at the pitiable village queens and looked down on them.
Ruh roh! You mean, we weren't all united gay brothers and sisters back in the glorious old days?
R93 before gay we didn't use a word to refer to ourselves we knew what we liked.
This was typical...I would see a hot young actor at a party, I would say to a friend is he?
No, he is not.
Homosexual was the word but we didn't much use it.
Did you call yourselves 'friends of Dorothy'?
[quote]the 'types' from Boys in the Band, they were village types that were not a part of my world.
I don't remember any of them living in the village. The lead lived in the East 50s.
Nor do I, personally, consider them particularly 'downtown'.
Plenty of gays were like them, from all over the place.
R96 of course we were not. The names and segments in which we divided ourselves were different but we all had our own social circle. There were A list and down. Queens were at the bottom of the list in the 50's just as they are today.
Nothing was worse than calling a man a queen, or a drag queen and they were on the bottom strata UNLESS they were a male actress like Charles Pierce then they were on the top rung.
We may not have had bears and chelsea boys but we all had divisions just as we now do.
I think what is somewhat revered about the 70's and the baths is that the stratas were gone at the baths, it was all poles and holes and no one much cared what you game was outside of the baths. To that end it was a kind of freedom, from ourselves and our own prejudice.
I never used the expression friends of Dorothy and village types is not a reference to the way they lived but village types tended to be 'bitter betties' who were always lamenting what they did not have in the village bars. They came from all over.
What were young lesbians like before Stonewall?
If I remember correctly the men from Boys in The Band were from the upper east side (60s at least).
Queens that some of them were, they were not "village" queens.
It seems we were not all that kind to each other.
Great thread! However, trolldar shows that somewhere around 80, R42 has taken over answering questions. I can sense a change in tone and attitude in his posts from the OP.
Come back OP!
Can we please not pretend that there was this Edenic past where gay men all went to the baths and took off their clothes, and: shazam! They were all equal!
Gay men are men. Men like to reject people. It's part of what turns a lot of them on, sexually.
"Gay sex," if there is such a thing, has always been about men getting off on rejecting each other.
It is not exclusively about that, but that's a big part of it, now and ever.
OP, did you ever read "Temple Slave" by Robert Patrick, about the early days of off-off Broadway? Were you in those circles?
[quote]trolldar shows that somewhere around 80, R42 has taken over answering questions.
I was born in 1946, OP, so, although I had been having sex with men for quite a few years, I didn't come "out" until my early/mid-twenties. There was no pressure to, or really much advantage, since "out" wasn't a concept until the late 60s/early 70s.
Not even the sincere lasts for long around these parts.
These old queens would have you believe that the gay thing was "more fun" way back when.
Oh, okay: lives were ruined, careers were ended, lives were lived in shame and secrecy and not in a fun way, bars were raided, people were tossed in jail and their names were run in the paper the next day, butch lesbians got the shit beaten out of them by brutal cops. . .
Maybe if you lived in a gay world of other secretive gays in a big city where your job was filled with homos, you could have a good enough time, especially if you had a lot of money. But ask Leonard Bernstein how happy he was as a tragically self-conflicted gay guy who couldn't forgive himself for wanting dick. Ask Jerome Robbins. Ask Sondheim. Those guys led emotionally disfigured lives. Maybe they sucked straight dick, but is that all you motherfuckers year for? Straight dick? In which case, "gay liberation" has meant exactly nothing.
"year for" = "yearn for," yikes
Fascinating thread.Thanks so much.
So to the real purpose of Datalounge.What was the gossip about who was rumoured to be gay and who did you see?
Are there names we don't mention much but were known to be gay.
I know you were in New York. But were there other rumours about James Dean or Rock Hudson,Cary Grant etc?
So many questions sorry.
What was the sex like in the 50s and 60s?
I mean (blush).Before 1969 what was the usual sexual encounter like.Did you guys kiss both straight and gay guys?
What did you guys do .I mean did you guys explore in the 50s as much sexually as someone say in the 70s.
Was it expected that being gay you would bottom for a straight guy ?
Was it more exciting because it was more surreptitious ?
Were the military seen to be as game as the Navy?
OK - so unless r42 is someone OP knows whose computer OP later decided to use, something weird is going on.
My take? R42 is OP's much younger boyfriend, who legitimately had a question for OP about "The way we were", and then - after coming home buzzed from the theater and a lovely dinner party - OP switched to his boyfriend's computer to answer questions.
Otherwise, what gives?
Co-workers? Public computer at Hell's Kitchen Burger King?
Forgot to sign: "Someone whose question was answered by Fake OP"
Was 1966 a particularly traumatic time for you? After all, you did turn 30 that year...
I confess I thought the conversation was over and went onto other things. I came back this morning and there are so many replies and in reading it seems someone was pretending to be me for a bit and didn't do too bad a job of it.
Forgive me if I miss anything and I will try to get recent with the many questions.
R106 I did read the book and I must admit that I don't remember it well enough to answer your question.
R110 As I have said before gay liberation was needed.
I was not in Kansas and did not have that life but I saw that equal rights had to be fought for for those very reasons. As to my personal life it was blessed in the sense I did not have to deal with many things others in different circles and smaller towns did.
R112 It was ever the same as it is now. Of course we knew who was who and when they came East we met them at parties.
I think you all can tell using your powers of intuition who is gay and lying about it, we could as well and we dished them as you do.
R113 Sex was sex.
No much different than it is now.
I kissed all my partners, even those who saw themselves as heteroflexible, if they thought of it at all.
There were two levels of sex...fooling around which many men did and full on intercourse. I didn't care what anyone expected if intercourse was happening I went on top.
I just scrolled through fake me...not too bad a job, but not really correct.
Boys in the Band was the topic and frankly it had little impact on me. I saw it, it was a hit,but no one saw it as a symbol or cultural milestone at the time.
They were broadly drawn types, types we all knew but it was over the top for dramatic purposes.
Now that the real you is back I hope the discussion continues.
OP, I am about 10 years younger than you, and I came of age on the west coast as opposed to the east coast, but one thing that I recall regarding gay sex was that oral sex was generally the most widely practiced activity (and still is if one is to believe those Advocate polls); I do not recall anal sex coming into widespread practice until around the 70's or so. Do you disagree with that?
OP, have you ever killed anyone? Was it a passion kill? Was it something you planned? If it was planned, how was your emotional state after the kill?
R124 I do agree oral was the most widely practiced often because it took less preparation.
Yet in the military there were a lot of jokes about dropping the soap so I was very aware of anal sex from a very early age.
In fact I remember my first experience when someone whispered that he'd like to drop the soap for me.
On night we both lingered in the shower and he kept dropping the soap right in front of me. Took me a long time to catch on to what he wanted but when I did I had my first experience with anal.
I loved it and convinced many a man to take that enema ball and get ready so I did it a lot.
I think that those of us who loved it found a way to do it, but it was never something you did the first time with a guy, you never assumed he was prepared, and of course he never was.
OP, what about being committed? I mean in an institution. We've all seen the movies where you're given shock treatments and such. Were these people kind of nutty in the first place? It sounds like as long as you hung around your own people you'd be ok.
R127 It was parents who typically put kids in institutions.
Either they caught them in the act or they told their parents.
A lot of it went on, but with no internet and the stories not making the papers the common guy was not afraid of it.
We learned of these things years later.
The only big fear most of us had was being arrested in a bar or a T-room. I had a big social circle so I stayed out of the T-rooms and went to more parties than bars.
I was in a few bar raids but they were not because the bar was gay, but rather because they could not serve booze legally and paid no taxes, or forgot to pay off the police.
Even Stonewall was about payola not gay rights at the time.
So many things we see as important now we didn't see then as they did not make the papers.
R97 and R100 both the fake me are stunningly like what I would have said in response to those questions.
Whoever you are, you did an excellent job and pretending. I am impressed, though you did miss the mark a bit with Boys in the Band, I am guessing you never saw it.
If I neglected anyone's question feel free to re-post and I will get to it.
Otherwise this thread can die off.
OP, I found George Nader even sexier than Rock Hudson when I was growing up. Was it pretty well-known among your circle that Nader was gay? What about Randolph Scott?
(I wish someone would do a biography on George Nader.)
Oh, and by the way, two gay men who were pretty much openly gay (one was a Broadway actor and one was a painter) recently had a book published about their lives during the 40's and 50's in New York. I read it and found it fascinating, but now I can't remember the title. It will come to me.
I must admit I had to go to google for George Nader as I did not remember who he was. At the moment I can't recall even after seeing pictures.
When my partner gets home I will ask him if he remembers Nader.
Met Hudson in the early 60's at a party, I had heard about him since he appeared on screen. Randolph Scott was linked to Cary Grant and others after Cary, he stayed in Hollywood circles and we never met.
I would love to read the book, it may spur other memories.
R133 R132, I think this is the book you're talking about, [italic]Double Life: A Love Story from Broadway to Hollywood[/italic], by Alan Shayne and Norman Sunshine. Well worth reading.
R134, I remember reading an excerpt of that book quite a while ago in the New Yorker. It was really marvelous.
Read the whole thing. I didn't put it down.
One of the best threads ever on DL- so glad the OP is being treated with respect.
I was born in '53 and came of age as an adult in the 70s in NYC. It was a wild time to understate.
Very little of the downside was noticed by me at the time although I had trouble with my mother. This was the age of gay as chic, trendy, etc., at least in NYC and LA.
I have often on other threads urged readers to pick up the book "Stonewall, the Other Side of Silence" which was written by a Columbia Univ academic I believe. It goes into "gay" life in the 20th Century in the US, both private and political and also the dark side (blackmail was viewed as a basically legitimate source of supplemental income among law inforcement.)
Yes, R34, that's it! A Double Life. I loved it. In fact, I know I'll read it again.
R137 you did remind me of something.
I had a producer friend who had a policeperson attempt blackmail upon finding him in a public toilet.
The policeman didn't threaten to go to the papers but rather the producers wife if he failed to pay.
The blackmail victim calmly informed the officer that his wife knew everything and she was a friend of Sappho and the marriage was only for public appearances. Blackmail over.
I wish I had been a fly on the wall and seen the cops face.
I was there then, too, Charlie R137. Might've known you. Could've blown you.
I know we are taking up your time thanks so much.
What gay books did you read in the 50s and 60s?
Christopher Isherwood,Mary Renault ?
As quite a few of the protagonist s of gay books died or suicided ie Finestre or Giovanni's Room.Was that the way gay life was perceived by your friends or was it more joyful ?
I came out in 1969, the same year as Midnight Cowboy and Easy Rider, and four years before the AMA took it off the books as a mental disorder. I lived on W. 35th Street, near Fifth. I marched in the first GAA parade and the attended the Pride Parade where we got gay marriage thanks to Cuomo. I thought to myself: full circle.
Hello OP, I would like to know what lesbians were like before it was more socially acceptable. Even Hollywood barely depicts them, and I feel like gay people in general have been written out of American history. Please share anything you know.
I love this thread. Would love to hear more about the military years.
R17 I can answer that (Sorry if I skipped over someone, but I couldn't wait.)
R141 the first gay book I can remember reading was 'Something you do in the dark'. However I read a lot and there are probably many I've forgotten.
I did read a lot of the pulp fiction but don't recall the titles.
R143 Lesbians had strong unions. Many of the women I know are still together.
They went to most of the same bars and parties as men did, we were not segregated so much.
As far as coupling they came up with many ruses. A lot of women became 'sisters' the Walsh sisters, the Barbie Sisters etc. No one thought twice about two spinster sisters living together and sharing a bed.
They were probably the first group of women to wear trousers, even before Laura Petri introduced Capri pants lesbians went to men's departments and had trousers tailored to them.
As far back as 1957 the Barbie sisters opened a car repair shop uptown that did amazing body work.
More is so general, can you give me a specific question as a starting point.
I was too young to join but lied on the form just to get away from the house. Back then your signature was your bond and all the documentation required today was not needed.
Were there drag queens at Stonewall?
Did sissies start it all?
OP: [quote]I was not at Woodstock.
The original production of [italic]A Chorus Line[/italic] is the gay Woodstock.